The chamber is devoting more time to business matters now that it no longer is responsible for an annual street festival.
By NORMAN LEIGH
VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU
SALEM -- This year marks the first time in two decades that the city won't be marking its founding with an annual Jubilee celebration, but that's saving the local chamber of commerce a lot of time.
Margie Kampfer, Salem Area Chamber of Commerce director, said recently that the time no longer spent by her and her staff on organizing the yearly festival is being put to good use.
"We've had a lot more time to do the business of the chamber such as legislative affairs," Kampfer said.
The Salem chamber is also focusing on membership development and working with other chambers of commerce in the county who meet monthly to address issues of concern to area businesses such as workforce development.
End of an era
"I've had a few people tell me how much they're going to miss the Jubilee, but not as many as I expected," Kampfer said.
When it was announced last year that the 2001 Jubilee, the 20th such affair, would end the event, "I had a lot of comments from people who thought it was time," she added.
Some downtown merchants argued that the event was bad for business because it shut off downtown streets for several days, causing some shoppers to stay away.
Street vendors brought in food, which some people thought had a negative impact on downtown restaurants.
The four-day event, which included rides, entertainment and other activities, was held in July and drew about 25,000 people annually.
Too much work
The chamber abandoned its sponsorship of the Jubilee after deciding that its involvement was robbing the organization of time better spent on business development and related matters.
Kampfer noted that putting on the Jubilee required months of advance work for her and her staff.
When it discontinued its involvement with the Jubilee, the chamber offered to assist any other organization that was willing to step forward and run the event. But the offer drew no takers.
Despite the end of the Jubilee, one of its traditions is being preserved: a parade through the central business district.
Organizers are putting together a parade for the downtown area on July 20, Kampfer said.